Radiators work with low temperature systems

Radiators are very much ‘fit for the future’. As renewable heating systems grow in popularity, and as Government adopts policies that see renewables being specified in preference to the standard fossil fuelled alternatives that we’ve come to rely on over the years, we’re having to adapt to new ways of achieving what we all want from our heating systems – effective space heating to keep us warm and comfortable in the colder months of the year and reliable supplies of domestic hot water.

Fit For The Future
Renewables Advice

How is it changing?
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Traditionally for most of us, heating systems have been gas or oil boilers – for most of us, combi boilers - driving our heating systems – but legislation is driving these down the pecking order with traditional boilers effectively not installed in new build domestic homes from 2025 and an expectation that legislation will be brought in soon to ban them from being used in replacement heating systems in existing homes – probably by 2035, but possibly sooner. In their places we are seeing the need to install renewable heating systems – in the main, the installation of heat pumps to provide heating and hot water.
Do radiators work with low temperature renewable heating systems?
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More than 90% of all homes in the UK are heated by radiators and despite what you may have read, that will continue to be the case. Radiators work well with renewable heating systems and as has always been the case, the key issue is to size them properly for each room they will be heating. It is true that with lower water flow temperatures, the radiators will need to have a higher heating capacity – either be larger in size of the new K3 – three panels and three fins – type design of radiator or be replaced with vertical radiators that take up a smaller horizontal footprint but can clearly be larger radiators as they can be fitted from floor to ceiling in most rooms. With better levels of insulation and correct sizing of radiators, radiators will be as effective at sharing heat around the home as they always have been. Many large new build developers have already decided to continue with radiators as the main form of heating in their new homes beyond 2025.
How does Part L affect radiators?
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As of 15th June, this year in England and from November 2022 in Wales, the interim Building Regulations Part L states that new homes starting construction must produce at least 31% less carbon than under previous regulations. The new Building Regulations are quite complex and are worth taking a closer look at to ensure we understand what they demand of us and to help us to meet these requirements. The changes to Part L aim to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in homes and to start to futureproof them for low carbon heating. To confuse the issue slightly the new regulations come in two volumes, volume 1 for dwellings and volume 2 for buildings other than dwellings – so effectively commercial buildings. The key figure to bear in mind is 55°C – the maximum flow temperature for all new wet heating systems from this date. The regulations also say that heating appliances and radiators should not be oversized. TRVs need to be fitted to every radiator except where there is a room thermostat fitted. The differential between the flow and return should be 10°C – giving a 45°C return, and a mean water temperature of 50°C. The expectation is that the next upgrade in Building Regulations Part L will be in 2024 in advance of the new regulations that will come into force in 2025 called the “The Future Homes Standard” where for new build properties there will be a requirement for a significant 75-80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to current regulations.

Stelrad is seeing its radiators being specified more and more for renewable heating systems as the popularity of heat pumps rises in the UK and Ireland. It’s clear that radiators are still a popular and sensible choice as homeowners are familiar with how they heat their homes, and when properly sized, they are the perfect solution to share heat from heat pump installations.

So, as these low temperature systems increase in popularity, Stelrad is keen to set the record straight when it comes to some of the misconceptions currently circulating about radiator sizing and compatibility versus the alternative options.

Radiators work in very different ways to alternative heating choices, but they do an as good or better job. We want to put the facts out there for installers and homeowners to choose for themselves without being bamboozled into thinking there is only one option.

RADIATORS VS UNDERFLOOR HEATING
Let’s Compare

EASIER
Easy to SPECIFY, FIT or REPLACE on any floor Customer and heating engineers have experience with radiators.
INSTALLATION
RESTRICTIVE
Retrospective installation and repairs mean access to pipes underneath laid flooring difficult and costly.
FASTER
Faster response time to heat up and cool down, aided by Thermostatic Radiator Valve’s (TRV’s).
HEAT UP TIMES
SLOWER
A slower heat up and cool down period. Multiple and thicker flooring choices affect the heat output.
Vast Range
Faster response time to heat up and cool down, aided by Thermostatic Radiator Valve’s (TRV’s).
DESIGN
NOT VISIBLE
Not visible in a room. No focal point

All radiators should be sized correctly for the rooms they are installed in – that has always been the case – and Stelrad offer a free radiator heat loss calculator to help you calculate what you need.

BTU (British Thermal Unit)
Heat Loss Calculator
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You will require larger radiators for a renewable, low temperature system than you would for a traditional boiler driven heating system because the water flow temperature in the system is lower. Vertical radiators or one of our increasingly popular K3 radiators – with three panels and three fins – with the same radiator footprint for a room as a current K2 radiator, but with 50% additional metal surface to provide increased heat levels are great solutions in these cases.

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